Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Kuumba Birthday New Year's Ramblings

Last night I was feeling a tad bit sad at the prospects of growing a year older...really came on as a result of thinking about grief I've experienced over decisions made by my children and wondering what we could have done differently.  Two years ago I tried to pour all that grief into a quilt which I named Prayers of The Mother.  I found myself marking time by my hopes and prayers for them.  I appliqued ankhs on it to represent life giving and sustaining faith, hash marks to measure time, the eyes of my 3 children to convey vision and 3 Ethiopian crosses to mark an ancient faith and prayers by millions of mothers from the beginning of civilization. 

This morning, yeah, this morning hope and fun arrived to greet me and life is what it is and I'm thrilled to be here and apart of it!  Can I get an amen?!  It has always tickled me that my birthday falls on the day of Kuumba, the day to reflect on Creativity:

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

The first half of '09 saw me exercising this principle in my small way in The Basement Workshop. My process of making art was alive and even through the detours I could see myself moving closer to the expression of my head and heart and becoming more soulful.  The flood did refocus my energies away from actually making quilts but out of it I gained a 2nd studio space and have fallen in love with machine needle felting.  All good, all good...but its time.  In spite of this season showing up my physical limitatons, I'm not willing to just sit and wait it out til spring. 

This is my plan. starting Monday...I'm going to re-introduce discipline to my approach.  A return to treating some of my time as if I'm taking college courses.  I've selected 5 books, each representing a class, and I'm going to work through them by assigning them a day or days of the week.  I've selected:

1. Finding Your Own Visual Language (Dunnewold, Benn, Morgan) M,W

2. Freetyle Machine Embroidery (Shinn) Tu

3. Image Transfer Workhop (McElroy, Wilson) W

4. Mindful Meandering (Fritz) Th

5. I'd Rather Be in the Studio (Stansfield) (gonna give it another go) W, F

I will create a new journal to track samples and studies and will also write accountability into Seamless Skin as I go.  My semester, of sorts, begins this coming Monday.  Not all my time on the assigned days will be devoted to the books, but approximately 1-2 hours and then another 1-2 hours of on at least 3 of the days while its cold to whatever I'm drawn to do.

The other topic I've found myself thinking about is John James Audubon, yes, that Audubon.  I've been invited to create a quilt commemorating him/his work.  Two trains of thought...the first one after reading about him, I became intrigued about his mother...Audubon was born in what is now Haiti to a properous plantation owner.  His birth mother gave birth to 2 children fathered by the plantation owner...John James  was the oldest and a girl who is also not given much mention. 

His birth mother died or was killed (depending on which article you read) after an African slave revolt.  His mother's name was Jeanne Rabine. (Jean was also John James' first name prior to being baptised and taken in by the wife of his father).  She is referred to as a French servant, Creole servant, French Creole servant...racially mixed. mulatto, etc.  One article I read speculated that she more than likely came from Louisiana (prior to the territory becoming part of the U.S.A) and was a French-African Creole.  Very few of the articles even mention her by name but give a respectable documentation of his father.  Audubon ended up in the U.S. and a land owner by way of his father's direction in keeping him out of Napolean's military even in spite of his status as an officer. 

Wondering more about his mother, Jeanne Rabine, I thought this would make a beautiful piece of fiction...not beautiful as in sanguine, okay?!  But in a way to give a voice to the voiceless, beautiful in a way to write this particular woman back in history, into the dialogue. 

A few months ago when I was at Penny Sisto's playing with the way she creates images, a headless female figure came to me (you can see it a few post down...its the one I lost and never that a riff on invisibility?!)  I wondered if it was Audubon's mother coming through.

The other train of thought I had for the upcoming exhibit was to do something with Crows.  I hope to neve forget the NPR story some months ago about Crow research finding out that Crows can recognize human faces and can communicate to other Crows about their pissivity with a person who affronts them, and will continue to harrass that person, and are not easily fooled if that said person tries to disguise themselves.  LOVE IT!!!! 

This is my Happy Kuumba Birthday New Year's always Peace,




Sunday, December 27, 2009

Digging The View...

The View from the Studio Door by Ted Orland 

Maybe its a stretch to call what i do a review since I mostly like to write about how a book impacts me but so be it.  This book spoke much more to me than Art & Fear which I didn't relate to much. The View goes a long way in helping me keep grounded and I predict it will be one that I'll return to quite often.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What I did during the mid-40 degree F heatwave

Ade and Peter are on vacation and I've been more home bound and hanging out with them eating ginger snaps and watching movies and lounging and running about.  Peter takes the whole month  or most of December off and this vacation has been sweet and low key just the way I love them. 

Yesterday I did take advantage of warmer temperatures (mid-40F) and head to my Mellwood Studio.  I worked on felting the scarf and Peter hung my curtains there before he and Ade went on their merry way and left me to my own devices. 

The scarf has a long way to go as I want to kick back the way the colour is laid out all wild-like with a little bit of order with the next layer of wool or yarns or cheesecloth or organza or...


The colours are more grayed in this image then they appear off camera.  A hot magentas and rich violets are the actual colours.

The Mellwood Studio is coming along and by spring it should be more work ready.  Peter hung the curtains for me yesterday and it makes it a tad bit more homey since there are windows all the way around except for my direct neighbor who has peg board up on his side.  I'm trying to come up with low labor way to cover up the peg board...I'm leaning toward decorative paper on those windows. 


Three of my quilts and framed poetry by Estella soften the pegboard but I'm thinking a light coloured decorative paper would bring some light into the space and not distract from what ever is displayed in front of the window.  The back corner is my "working" and storage area.



Estella has more framed poetry and her books in the window.  I like to watch the people who stop to actually read the poems. 

The African panels belong to her also and came back with her from various central African countries a few years back.  You can see one on the back window in the photo above and the other 3 in the photo below.  The panels are for sale but I'm not sure how much.  If you're interested, just email me and I'll find out.  On the shelves below  the window is an exhibit of Memory Boxes by Henrietta Box Brown (email me if you get this one ;) )  and they juxtapose an historical memory with one contemporary. 



And this quilt, lord, this quilt was started some 14 years ago and it still is unfinished...its a quotation quilt.  I released it from its unfinished project bag and hung it over my quilt frame for inspiration.  It was started for a birthday gift and the intended receiver has seen many birthdays come and go and its still not complete.  I want to hand quilt it. 

My muscles and joints have not let up in pain since mid November.  In addition to reading to keep my mind off of the pain (I really need to review here The View from the Studio Door by Ted Orland, digging this! and Screen Printing by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan...outstanding!) I'm perpetually giving praise for the blessing of being able to create art in my life as a triumph over the pain...keep on keeping on and have a wonderful Kwanzaa and Holidays!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hello out thereeeeeee (echoing from the frozen tundra)

okay, a bit of an exagerration but its been in the teens and 20s here until today...a rise in the thermostat showing in the upper 40s.  I'm thawing out here!

I've been machine felting and enjoying myself with it!  Do you think this can be my way of reconciling with the season that shall not be mentioned?  Afterall, I am working with wool.  I haven't tried wet felting but folks are informing me that it is physically taxing.  I'm sure I'm gonna give it a try at least once though since I'm having so much fun with machine felting. 

To keep a focus I'm only making scarves and shawls (thats the plan) and some small framable pieces.  This is the first scarf and I've started another one with a wool batt and curly wool locks embedded into it. another one.  Below the scarf is the start of a small framable piece that will receive some embroidery stitches.



I haven't been able to do much since its turned bitter cold...physically I'm just not able to push myself...I do a little and am down for the next 3-4 days.  I've been spending the time thinking about my goals for next year and what I could do to get into the "submission" habit and looking at a major workshop for next year.

Clair Benn and Leslie Morgan will be returning to the Crow Barn for 2 weeks in April and another 2 weeks in 2011.  I know for sure that I will do 1 week with them this year, (possibly 2).  If I do not do  2 weeks this year then I'm going to do 1 this year and the other next year.  I just couldn't stand knowing they are that close to me and me not take advantage of their collective minds!